Learning near-optimal policies with Bellman-residual minimization based fitted policy iteration and a single sample path
András Antos, Csaba Szepesvari and Rémi Munos
In this paper we consider the problem of finding a near-optimal policy in a continuous space, discounted Markovian Decision Problem (MDP) by employing value-function-based methods when only a single trajectory of a fixed policy is available as the input. We study a policy-iteration algorithm where the iterates are obtained via empirical risk minimization with a risk function that penalizes high magnitudes of the Bellman-residual. Our main result is a finite-sample, high-probability bound on the performance of the computed policy that depends on the mixing rate of the trajectory, the capacity of the function set as measured by a novel capacity concept (the VC-crossing dimension), the approximation power of the function set and the controllability properties of the MDP. Moreover, we prove that when a linear parameterization is used the new algorithm is equivalent to Least-Squares Policy Iteration. To the best of our knowledge this is the first theoretical result for off-policy control learning over continuous state-spaces using a single trajectory.